RELAY Project – Thinking Artistic Material in Music and Dance


During the Olympics in Rio 2016 the Japanese team unexpectedly won the silver medals in the men’s 4×100 meter Relay Final. The surprising part was that individually all team members ran slower than their competitors and the secret to their success was instead due to their work with optimizing the hand overs of the baton from one runner to the next, saving them precious seconds in the tight race.

RELAY is a three-year EU-funded research project supported by the ERASMUS+ programme „Cooperation Partnerships” that focuses on developing the artistic and educational fields of choreography, dance and music. The above mentioned story can be seen as an analogy of the project’s aim: favoring collaboration, the in betweens and the passing-overs between the collaborating institutions, the programmed events, the artists involved and the public it gets in touch with.

RELAY has grown out of four different contextual grounds. All of these are geared towards sustainable conditions for the practitioner’s work/life balance and longevity in career, as well as increased awareness of local contexts and situated knowledge:

Artistically, it springs out of a current strand in contemporary dance and choreography that uses movement as a lense to investigate the supposed dualism of material and immaterial. In addition, the project explores in what way dance and music can find mutual ground in such an investigation.

In relation to sustainability the project starts from the fact that both dance and music are global phenomenons and their practitioners are known to travel frequently. RELAY looks at how to work climate-consciously with the trans-national and cross-cultural exchange that remains a crucial element in the development of the artforms.

The pedagogical context of the project derives from the innovative potentials that art-educations represent in terms of student-driven learning environments. This is pursued all the while investigating how principles of sustainability can be found and/or applied in the domain of artistic research, teaching and art production.

Last but not least: Multitudes of perspectives. Geographically RELAY brings partners from north, center, east and south of Europe, but also a difference in form of organization that the partners represent, mixing academic institutions with independent organizations.

The core activities of the project are workshops of 1-2 weeks involving students from higher education in the fields of choreography, dance and music. In some cases younger participants from talent environments as well as professional artists will participate. Researchers from the partner institutions will follow the project and mentor the participants. The experiences will develop research materials to be shared in public events such as seminars and conferences. Beyond on-site Learning, Teaching, Training Activities, three multiplier events will take place: two symposiums in Cologne and Montepulciano as well as a Conference in Aarhus connected to the IETM Annual Gathering.

Two tangible project results will be developed during the lifetime of the project:

1. A RELAY ARTicle about the process, including challenges and realizations considered relevant for the field of art education, innovative education in general and artistic research.
2. A RELAY ARTwork: documentation of a continuously developing and developed artistic material that travels and is handed over from person to person throughout the entire project time.

Partner countries
Denmark, Greece, Germany, Romania

Partner institutions

Project period: November 2021 – November 2024

Project dates:

  • February 2022, Opening (LTT1), Cologne
  • May 2022, “Form and Content” (LTT2), Copenhagen
  • September 2022, “explore the generation and transmission of artistic material through  movement and sound” (LTT3), Bukarest
  • April 2023, (LTT 4 + Symposium):  “content/Relay/form”, Cologne
  • June 2023, “Sharing: Project results” IETM annual meeting  2023/ conference, Aarhus
  • September 2023, “Being (in) a fortress” (LTT5), Crete
  • May 2024, Symposium, Montepulciano


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